With apologies to readers of my other blog, who have seen some of this already, here's what we did:
The books, jigsaws, games and art/craft stuff were all in the dining room which worked quite well because good use was made of the dining table, but the room was quite crowded and getting around the table at mealtimes could be a bit of a tight squeeze:
And the living room housed a chaotic collection of toys, which was also good in a way, because it seemed to engender the most creative, complex imagination games in Lyddie. But even when tidied into boxes (randomly) it wasn't attractive and the room never felt tidy. I was also concerned that we had too much stuff that wasn't really accessible, and there's no point in having loads of stuff that doesn't get used.
As for paperwork and other stuff, well:
It wasn't pretty. I'd made a start with those boxes you see to the right there, but for weeks I kept thinking "This whole place needs sorting out - properly."
Louise asked me how we knew how many crates we'd need and the answer is: we didn't. Wilkos were selling a range of Crystal perspex crates with lids (standard size: £3) and I looked at the chaos on the living room floor and roughly counted the number of categories I could see: duplo, dolls, teddies, cars, etc. and guessed at the sizes that might be required. We did sums to make sure we had enough spare cash in the overdraft then went off and bought a dozen or so and spread them out on the dining room table. Crates of toy chaos were then brought in one at a time and sorted. When we ran out of boxes, we went back and bought more. I think this happened about five times!
Until the dining room was full and the living room was empty:
Then we painted it:
And went to buy shelves. Ikea's Ivar range is one we've used before, and we've found it's cheap, solid, looks ok and above all is easy to assemble and modify, so we went with that. Lou also asked how we knew the crates would fit on the shelves and - we didn't! Well we knew the regular-sized ones would. The big ones, did I measure them? I might have, but we were working so fast and furiously by then (16 hour days, all last week) that I can't remember. I think we (I - Tom was laughing at me for it, so it can't have been him!) decided just to wing it. All along we were doing sums on the backs of envelopes - we looked like mad maths boffins trying to solve a complex theorem!
We filled loads of shelves with boxes and books, then decided we needed more shelves, so went back again. This job wasn't meticulously pre-planned at all! It was kind of, er, organic in its development. I wish I could blog movie clips of us careering back from Ikea with car full of people and shelving units, then all piling out and starting to build them. Our baby was quite interested in the process anyway, from her sling-side position!
Anyway, here's the end result:
And here are some more detailed pics, on big clickable photos at Lou's request (who is probably at HESFES, - hope the sun shines!) so might not see this until next week anyway.
We made a play corner, with cars (right box) and a road mat. ( - Ikea again! £10.) The box on the left is full of Zara's old Polly Pocket miniature compacts, for which we need to get some replacement dolls.
The bulk of the jigsaws and games are up here:
But we put some in easy reach near the table, especially the stuff Lyddie's been using a lot:
Here are Magnetix, and a box of modelling stuff to the right..
All the family photos are in this big box here, for someone to organise if ever they feel like it! We wanted them to be accessible, but toddler proof, which these box lids are.
I hate making things 'age-appropriate', but there are two baskets full of 'young child' books on the 2nd shelf up, so these are about chest-height for Lyddie:
As is the Duplo basket:
We found the cable for the piano - and I've actually been playing it! First time in years. I'm very rusty. Lyddie has played it too. She's been experimenting with the sounds and carefully picks out tuneful sequences.
Also, the globe met the map, and Lyddie got an impromptu geography lesson from Tom when she wanted to know how and why the one became the other. Good question, when you think about it!
Files, old college stuff and diaries went up here. There’s 15 years’ worth of I Ching readings with corresponding notes in that lot! And old training diaries. I might publish it all one of these days.
Here are dressing-up clothes...
And this is kind of what's reachable from the table. Those three smaller boxes to the right contain felt tips, crayons and pencils. In the centre above the lego is a box full of painting gear.
And there's a box of paper at the bottom and a box of comics. This is a crawling/toddling baby angle, one of which we'll have again in a few months. So she can reach things which are safe for her to play with, and not get into things which aren’t.
To the left here is a box of board books, and to the right is a box of musical instruments, and baby dolls in the basket below.
We've amassed three dolls' houses over the years. Nothing special, but they all get played with. I'd love to build a big wooden one. Might get around to that one of these days. [*Edit: ooh I could try to build one into one of these shelves..]
I guess you don't need me to tell you what this is! I bought it 20 years ago for my 3 year-old stepson, and it's survived five children before the current batch of little ones! I also tried to put relevant books next to certain toys. *Sigh* and I said I never did strewing. Oh, the hypocrisy! Ah well. I had to put things somewhere. And strewing is quite fun, I find, when it's done openly. I'd still never be so sneaky as to leave a certain book casually open in the bathroom or something.
Here's a box full of dolls, and doll paraphernalia, of a size that might inhabit the dolls' houses.
Some of my favourite books here. Making berry pie today (thanks Lucy!) reminded me of Peter Rabbit - and I knew exactly where it was! So we read it straight away instead of having to do the usual 10-minute search.
Here's Pooh Bear Corner:
.. and Letterland shelf...
And even the old sideboard got a clean-out. It now houses random toys:
.. and the train set. I really must get some wood glue and fix that bit of track though:
In the corner behind my PC we put the more 'boring' stuff. Those smaller boxes at the top are mostly paperwork. There’s a box for bills, one for banking, one for maps, stationery, etc. And there’s a knitting box up there at the top! And a hallowe’en box. That big box top left is full of Christmas stuff. The 2 below that are videos, which we’re still on because I’ve yet to find a child-proof DVD. The three big boxes in the middle contain sewing & cloth (top), home ed meeting stuff inc parachute (middle) and old files (bottom). Then down the right hand side there’s outdoor sports stuff in the top one, then old home ed stuff below that, from the days when we thought learning had to go in files (!) and some old business stuff below that:
Then we put curtains on that section so that we didn't have to look at it all the time.
Some books, amazingly, didn't make it onto the new shelves due to lack of space! We ran out of walls for shelves. There was also no room for our old bookcase in there, so the cooking/health and herbal books all stayed in the dining room:
Well blimey, it took nearly as long to blog all that as it did to do the job!
In the end the whole project has cost about £350, including paint, shelves and 40-50 plastic boxes. (I still don't know how many we bought!) We were going to spend that money on a new garden room roof, but I'm glad we did this instead because it's improved day-to-day life for us more than the garden room roof would have done, especially given the recent rain we've had! We might manage the roof later in the summer. I hope so, because it will be good to improve the outdoor living space, for when we get some sunshine.
I love the way the new storage system works with natural learning, even in just the first few days. We've got computers in here and TVs, and everything within easy reach. Lyddie's done about 10x more activities every day than before, and the teens keep wandering in to play the piano, find a book, watch a bit of TV or just chat. That says a lot, because they're very self-contained in their rooms and so they don't have to join us in here!
Yes, it was a week of very hard work which was well worthwhile. And we can sit at the dining table now without having to push past bookshelves too:
Phew, I finally blogged it all! Funny how a job doesn't feel finished until it's been blogged.